The celebrity TV host who was filmed at a private dinner criticizing Mao Zedong while mocking a Cultural Revolution-era opera has expressed remorse for his boozy rendition, which he said had “a serious detrimental impact” on society.
In a post to his personal Weibo account yesterday evening, Bi Fujian wrote that he felt “extremely remorseful and pained,” adding that “I sincerely offer my deepest apologies to the public. As a public figure, I will learn a lesson from this and exercise strict self-discipline and restraint.”
Bi appears, or did appear, regularly as a host on various CCTV programs including the popular talent show “Avenue of Stars”, and since 2011 has co-hosted the state-run broadcaster’s annual New Year’s Eve Gala, arguably one of the most-watched shows in the world.
But after a video showing the crooning host taking a gibe at Chairman Mao went viral, CCTV suspended his shows for the next few days. Employees at the station said it was uncertain whether his programs would be broadcast again after Sunday.
In the footage, Bi is seen singing a tipsy tune from the 1958 revolutionary opera Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy while occasionally dropping in his own sarcastic commentary about suffering under Mao’s ruling. At one point, he called the Great Helmsman an “old son of a bitch,” a nickname that, as you’d expect, did not go over will among Mao loyalists and state media.
The video was filmed at a private dinner and the recorder remains anonymous. The apparent presence of two Western men and a Western woman at the table has further ignited speculation over how the video was leaked online.
But for as many supporters as Bi may have lost, he’s made up for with a new gathering of followers who’ve expressed feeling “a newfound appreciation” for the CCTV host.
“Totally support Bi Fujian,” one user wrote on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social media platform. “Everyone has the right to free speech, not to mention saying that Mao was a big dictator who brought calamity to China, ruined China’s literary heritage and starved tens of millions of people.”
Watch the video here.